Greenpeace Africa staged a peaceful protest outside Eskom’s Megawatt headquarters on Tuesday the 20th August, complete with hospital beds and pretend “patients” in the beds highlighting the harmful effects pollution has on the health of individuals and the environment.
Most worrying of all is that Kriel in Mpumalanga is the world’s second–largest sulphur dioxide emission’s hotspot – second place only to Norilsk in Russia!
It is common knowledge that the Mpumalanga area has a concentration of coal combustion with no fewer than 12 Eskom coal–powered stations, which is of great concern to the Government. The Government is reliant on coal but is in the process of scaling down on coal usage as more renewable energy is introduced.
Of special note is that the South African Government still has concerns about the introduction of renewable energy as the struggling economy and high unemployment figures need to be taken into the equation; the retrenchment of workforces is of great concern as Eskom does not want to exacerbate the problem.
The Government, however, is still moving forward on renewable energy despite the above concerns, by introducing wind farms in remote areas and installing solar energy in new housing developments.
The protest was against Eskom’s contribution to air pollution and the extreme levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2) polluting the air in Mpumalanga. Eskom’s coal fire stations have contributed and continue to contribute to harmful emissions into the air. There is no question that the ordinary people are paying a huge price for the pollution crisis – not only with their health but with their lives as well.
Studies have concluded that South Africans are becoming ill as a result of the high sulphur dioxide secretions in the air (SO2). Most disconcerting is that air pollution is not only affecting the air that is being breathed in by individuals in Mpumalanga but is also affecting other provinces surrounding Mpumalanga.
South Africa’s Department of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries have claimed that a definite shift towards incorporating renewable energy will dilute the problem affecting emissions into the air in Mpumalanga.
Greenpeace has concluded, using NASA satellites, that Kriel is the world’s second–biggest hotspot for poisonous and harmful emissions into the air – this is only second to Norilsk in Russia.
The Government has to take responsibility for its contribution to the harmful air we are breathing in – hopefully the protest by Greenpeace Africa will make the utility sit up and take notice and perhaps speed things along to make a difference to the very air we breathe in every day by introducing renewable energy to power our land.